9th Dec 2020

Reshaping Companies as Workplace Communities

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2020 has highlighted the importance of workplaces as communities, not just companies. Let’s talk about what this year has taught us about fostering that sense of belonging, and why it’s so essential for businesses to thrive.

Being able to socialise, collaborate and interact in person are all things we’ll never take for granted again. Video calls might have enabled businesses to carry on trading, but they have done very little for our mental health and wellbeing. What we’ve all realised is that nothing replaces in-person communication. And this is especially true when it comes to the office.

We can all agree that we don’t want to experience another year quite like this one. But the pandemic has highlighted the ‘human’ in human resources as employers across the world rethink the entire purpose of their offices.

Ultimately, we’ve been reminded that solidarity wins over isolation, every time.

The office is no longer simply a building that provides space for employees to work in and resources to use. It’s now so much more than that. Its role has transformed, and its purpose is more important than it’s ever been.

The office: the place where workplace communities thrive

Thanks to the rise in remote working, the traditional workplace must now prove its worth, and we think it can. In fact, we think people need their offices more than ever.

That’s because workplaces are anchored around community. And this sense of needing to come together to feel inspired, engaged, and work towards common goals has only become stronger.

There’s nothing like a safe, inspiring, workplace to ignite social connection. It provides intrinsic human experiences that no number of video calls or instant messages can replace!

Organisations now have a greater responsibility to provide an office space that fosters active participation and collaboration between employees. The office needs to attract people to it, and make them want to come to work on a regular basis.

Safety first in office design

What we’re experiencing now is a focus on safety first in office design. Of course, it’s absolutely essential to safeguard the physical health of employees while they’re at work.

This doesn’t mean clinical, unfriendly spaces though. Intelligent and informed office design creates purposeful working environments – you just need to think outside of the box!

First, take it back to basics. What can your people do in the office that they can’t do from home? One of the main things is to collaborate in person. And get that further level of understanding and energy that comes with face-to-face interaction.

The best ideas and innovations often happen in unexpected conversations. That’s why it’s so important to foster this by providing a collaborative, connected, safe and productive working environment. No amount of predetermined video calls can replace the ability for new recruits to overhear ad-hoc conversations involving more experienced people and the knowledge transfer and understanding they gain from the opportunity to listen in on these discussions.

Agile working and the ‘free range’ employee

Agile working is something we’ve championed for a long time. And this year has seen a forced adoption of a more agile approach to work in many sectors.

We like to think of it as the rise of the ‘free range’ employee. To us, that means people being empowered to work how and when they feel is best by giving them the freedom and resources to do just that.

Agile working is facilitated by activity-based workspaces that are enhanced with technology. Something that you can provide in a communal space, but not so easily in remote or home office environments.

Technology is a catalyst in driving the change from lifeless rows of desks to workplaces where people’s social, emotional and physical needs are met.

When a space is equipped with the right tools and empowers people in the right way, employees have the added incentive to come together to work, interact, and enjoy a shared sense of purpose and create meaningful workplace communities. This is exactly what we need to see more in the future.

It’s also central in enabling office-based working where people feel empowered. And where they feel part of an inclusive, supported community and, in turn, are more productive in the workplace than when away from it.

Offices that support wellbeing

2020 has firmly placed the importance of wellbeing at the top of the agenda, and the office shouldn’t be underestimated as a key contributor.

It’s therefore essential for office designs to reflect a wellbeing-centred workplace that puts people first as employees look for more rounded workplace experiences. Not to mention the fact that workplaces designed with wellbeing in mind can reap huge rewards for employee contentment and productivity.

Offices must offer a sanctuary for people which positively contributes to their wellbeing. As well as furniture or technology, the office fit out process should consider elements like nature, the need for movement, the importance of air quality, and outdoor space. These aspects, and several other factors, are all integral to positive workplace wellbeing.

The 2021 workplace and beyond

Health, safety, and wellbeing priorities have changed for good. Businesses must adapt, and do it now, to create spaces where employee productivity and wellbeing thrives.

Employers must meet their people’s professional as well as fundamental human needs to ensure they remain healthy and well – physically, mentally, and cognitively.

Adaptability, touch-free collaborative technology, designated relaxation areas to help with mental fatigue or stress, and a greater appreciation for nature must all play a crucial role in the workspaces for 2021 and beyond. 

Reshape your workplace community

At Blueprint Interiors, we live and breathe workplace design. We create and build bespoke, agile, purposeful workspaces that are equipped to prioritise health and safety, wellbeing and productivity.

If you’d like some advice about your workplace design, we’re here to help.

Call us on 01530 223 111 or drop us a line at hello@blueprintinteriors.com.

Author:

Mike McKeown

Client Services Director